You have found the blog section of Vintage Bluebird Gifts and Interiors. This section is filled with news from the latest and greatest things that are happening in home interiors and the design-led gifts market. We will keep you up to date on any changes and updates with Vintage Bluebird and our friends. We will also endeavour to keep you informed on what is happening in Ashbourne, Derbyshire where we have our home so you can decide the best time to pop in and visit us.
- Shrovetide Football takes place on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday in Ashbourne; the shops barricade their windows and the town prepares itself for a mad game of no holds barred football through the streets. The game is played between the ‘Upards’ that live to the north of the river Henmore; and the ‘Downards’ that live on the south side. There are about 3,000 players in total. The ball is ‘turned up’ at 2pm each day and the ball is ‘goaled’ at the mill stones at Clifton and Sturston which are 3 miles apart along the length of the river. The game is not for the feint hearted and bruises and broken bones are not uncommon. To ‘goal’ the ball is a great honour and ties you into the fabric of Ashbourne
- Ashbourne Festival takes place in late June to early July each year. The surest indication that the festival is imminent is that the whole town gets covered in 9 miles of bunting. The festival attracts weird and wonderful acts from across the country and some from further afield. This year Arthur Smith, Tony Hawks, Justin Moorhouse and Dominic Holland from the world of comedy are appearing in various locations in and around Ashbourne. There are a good number of musical acts including ABBA Revival, and plenty of poetry, talks and art exhibitions. The town has an upbeat vibe for the fortnight as all the shops, pubs and eateries join in the festivities.
- International StreetFest takes place on the first weekend of the Ashbourne Festival and has become an event in its own right. Ashbourne International Streetfest brings together the world’s top street performers. Hold on to your hats, get ready for an action packed free family festival full to the brim with spine tingling escapades, awe-inspiring acrobats, jaw dropping jugglers, moving mime and performances to stir all your emotions. This year we have; Victor Rubilar, one of the best football jugglers in the world, Dado, a clown with several twists, Todd Various a classic street performer from the USA and Diego Spano who brings to life Chaplin’s ‘The Little Tramp’ in one of the most enchanting street performances you will ever see!
- Highland Gathering is on 21st July and is a piping festival and highland games that is proud to proclaim itself as the largest highland gathering outside of Scotland. Key to the event is the piping competition that brings together some of the finest piping bands in the British Isles. There is a highland dancing competition and then there are the highland games with tug-of-war, caber tossing, and a hill run; and not to mention llama racing amongst a great and unique day of events.
- Independent Shops really are the life blood of Ashbourne and one of the main reasons for people visiting the town. Even though times are hard economically at the moment, Ashbourne continues to buck national trends and has far fewer vacant properties than the national average. One of the main reasons for this is the high quality and variety of the independent retail sector and the beauty of Ashbourne as a town. Consequently, people will still visit and shop in the town despite the lure of out-of-town and online shopping. Quality will always survive.
- Antique shops have been a mainstay of Ashbourne for years. Most of them are based down on Church Street but a number have popped up more centrally in town over the last few years. There is also a proliferation of shops that sell mainly new but have a small section of original vintage items amongst their treasures.
- Markets have been around in Ashbourne for nearly 1000 years, in fact Ashbourne at one time had 3 market places. Whilst the cattle market has long since gone from Ashbourne, the street market remains and is having a resurgence at the moment with the recent introduction of a local produce market on the last Thursday of each month and a monthly Vintage market that takes place on a Sunday.
- Georgian Architecture and street scene is aplenty in Ashbourne and pays testimony to the wealth and prosperity in and around Ashbourne during the 18th and 19th century. It is easily forgotten that Great Britain was far less London-centric during and after the industrial revolution and towns like Ashbourne had remarkably wealthy merchants and families that capitalised on the new wealth. Many fortunes were made and lost during this period of history but the architecture remains as a legacy.
- St Oswald’s Church with its 212ft spire dominates the skyline of Ashbourne. It was built during the 13th and 14th centuries although places of worship occupied the site in Saxon times. The church has three transepts and each one houses a chapel dedicated to three local families; the Cockaynes, Boothby and Bradbourne. The churches cathedral like proportions and the funeral monuments that occupy the chapels are what make the church stand out. In particular the statue of a sleeping child (Penelope Boothby) as it is made from pure white Italian Carrara Marble and is noted for its intricate detail and realism.
- Ashbourne Tunnel and Tissington Trail. The Ashbourne to Buxton railway has reinvented itself and is now the Tissington Trail. The tunnel here at Ashbourne is the southern starting point of the Trail and although the Trail doesn't extend quite as far as Buxton, it takes you close to it and into the Peak District National Park. The tunnel runs under part of Ashbourne and was reopened in 2000 as part of The National Cycle Network and brought the end of the Tissington Trail back into Ashbourne (by the leisure centre). The 'Soundtrack' plaque at the entrance to the tunnel refers to a sound art project. You can hear the sound of railway life of earlier years as the tunnel recordings replicate the sound of passing trains, clunks, puffs of steam, whistles, and the slamming of train doors. It's a variable timetable and hopefully you'll be fortunate enough to hear the artwork. BUT be warned there is also a phantom locomotive that shares the tunnel and we strongly advise upon hearing a train to just step aside and let the train pass as you never know whether it’s just art or something more sinister!
As a ‘bricks and clicks’ business commitment to our local community is as important to us as engaging with our on-line audience. And ever since we set-up Vintage Bluebird we have endeavoured to have a proportion of our stock provided by ‘up and coming’ suppliers and a proportion provided by local businesses. In this blog we will look at some suppliers that are very local to us but also supply us with some of our best selling products:
- Vintage Bluebird Gifts and Interiors which of course is us and we manufacture and supply our own lampshades on our premises. This gives us great flexibility so we can vary the patterns we use to offer variety to our customers. We can also make lampshades to order and often use fabrics provided by customers themselves. So a lampshade to match your curtains is not out of the question. We also make bespoke bunting from our vintage fabrics so you can have an extra special christening, birthday or wedding present; some bunting with your name on! How lovely!
- Sarah Heaton is based in Little Walton Bank Studio in Ashbourne and is a ceramic designer of considerable repute. We were very surprised when we first moved our shop to the town that she had no current outlet. We have been selling her work for a few months now and they are rapidly becoming some of our best selling items. Sarah has all her pottery made in Stoke-on-Trent and we are proud to help her support The Potteries.
- On A Wick and A Prayer are candle makers from Tissington Village which is about 4 miles north of Ashbourne. Annie Maudling and her team design and fragrance all their candles and offer a bespoke service where they will make candle ranges specifically for your own shop or business. In addition to the range of exclusive fragrance candles On a Wick produce their decorative ‘Hurricane Candles’; fabrics set within a wax shell. This is fantastic as Vintage Bluebird has loads of fabrics from the lampshade and bunting operations and an everlasting candle makes a great gift.
- Pure Thoughts are soap and toiletry makers from Derby. We stock their vast range of soaps, bath bombs, lip balms and face and body creams. We chose to stock their product partly because they are local but also because they were the best soaps out of the fifteen samples we tried! The soaps are made by the traditional cold process using natural ingredients, some ingredients have healing properties, some exfoliate and all their ingredients just smell nice.
- Clementine Jewellery is based in Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire and we totally fell in love with their jewellery. All their pieces are made from semi-precious stones and high quality glass beads that truly sparkle. Sterling silver is used as well as silver plate which makes for remarkable value with no compromise on quality or aesthetics. Ami is making great waves in the industry and is now attending some of the larger trade shows. Her products are some of our best sellers and we are happy to support her on her journey.
- Repeat Repeat is an award winning ceramic design company from Stoke-on-Trent who have nearly 30 years experience in the industry. We have stocked their products since we first opened our doors two and a half years ago. Mark and Gillian’s designs are quirky, amusing and many have a retro chic quality about them. Their most exciting changes have been in their 100% British ranges made using Bone China from Stoke-on-Trent, helping keep centuries of tradition and expertise alive. We salute you!
- Design Rocks are the latest addition to our local range of products and just make the list being across the border in Leicestershire. Helen makes use of vintage fabrics to make up bold retro designs. Her cards are rapidly proving to be some of our fastest sellers which is great as one thing we have learned along the way is that dealing with smaller local designer makers is infinitely better for us than struggling to work with the bigger players who do not always value our business.
So thank you to our local suppliers, we love selling your products and supporting you. There is a saying about ‘putting your money where your house is’, and that in stringent times we should think a little more about supporting the local economy and the local economy can then support us. Currently about 40% of our stock is 100% UK based and we are working on the rest. Over the next few months we have made the conscious decision to get as many of these products online as well as in the shop. Help us support great British design and manufacture.
Rob Ryan is one of our favourite artists who we first became aware of about 10 years ago when we saw an exhibition of his work at the Horse Hospital in London. We then started seeing his work appearing on cards and posters more regularly and he became a ‘must have’ for Vintage Bluebird when we first opened.
A bit of background;
Rob Ryan was born in Cyprus in 1962, studied Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University and then printmaking at the Royal College of Art. He has become one of the foremost exponents of paper-cut and laser-cut artwork creating fantastic silhouette style pieces for which he is best known. He has worked in collaboration with Paul Smith, Liberty’s and Fortnum and Mason to name but a few. We also recently saw his work at Charleston House in Sussex with his unique decorative art and text on Staffordshire porcelain dogs.
We currently stock Rob Ryan porcelain mugs, plates and vases at our shop in Ashbourne and have the porcelain on the website as well. The cards are available through the shop only at the moment but we are working on getting these onto the website.
Rob Ryan has a three metre paper cut currently displaying at Nottingham Lakeside gallery ‘The First Cut – Paper at the Cutting Edge’.
Summer has arrived and the bunting has gone up in Ashbourne and this year the bunting has been further extended to cover Wellington Yard where Vintage Bluebird is located.
The tradition of covering the town in bunting has been going on for more than ten years and hit national news headlines last year as part of the Jubilee celebrations. The bunting is actually hung to celebrate the commencement of the great Summer events in Ashbourne; International StreetFest, Ashbourne Festival and Highland Gathering. There are 8 to 9 miles of red, white and blue bunting and it takes nearly 3 weeks to install but the results are breathtaking and draw attention to this quaint little town.
Ashbourne is well worth visiting during the summer months; either as a destination in its own right or as a stop off point when visiting Dove Dale, Ilam Hall, or Tissington Village. And while you are visiting you will be more than welcome to drop in on us at Vintage Bluebird Gifts and Interiors.
We also make handmade bunting at Vintage Bluebird; for enquiries telephone 01335 347515 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Before bidding everyone a Happy New Year there is an inevitable time of reflection on the outgoing year. The weather was awful and the economic climate dire but despite this (one way or another) Vintage Bluebird survived and prospered throughout the year and we head into 2013 stronger for the experience.
It is now 15 months since we relocated to Ashbourne and this move has been the making of us. I was asked recently by Derbyshire Life magazine to comment on the town and the first remark that sprang to mind was that Ashbourne is probably the friendliest town in the country. A bold statement based on pure unashamed opinion. But a statement I will intend to stand by for the foreseeable future. Imagine a town where people say ‘hello’ to you in the streets, where people make efforts to shop locally and support the town, where there is a strong voluntary community network and where strangers are treated as friends we have only just had the pleasure of meeting. This is my biased opinion of Ashbourne. Of course there are tensions; but tension can be the glue that binds us as well as the force that threatens to tears us apart.
On this final point Ashbourne in its dim and distant history created a novel solution to resolving any niggling tensions. The whole town congregates each year on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday and plays a football match involving around 3,000 or more participants. One half of the town verses the other separated by nothing more than the side of the river Henmore you were born on. There are very few rules except commonsense gamesmanship to keep the match flowing (such as not introducing a fake ball or committing common law murder) but outside of this the game is a no holds barred example of mob football. The excitement is already mounting for this year’s game, the beautiful colourful cork and leather balls are receiving their finishing touches; and scores and vendettas will be settled over the two days of play in this most cathartic of exercises. The town will then be carried forward into another year on the shoulders of the spirit of Shrovetide Football and all talk will be of what happened during this years match.
As for us; we will board up our windows on Saturday night and re-open on Thursday after the match has run its course. Shrovetide Football is not much of a spectator sport or a time to do any business; these two days belong to the players, the people of Ashbourne. And when we re-open we do so safe in the knowledge that everyone shook hands, had a drink and put their tensions and troubles behind them. This years match takes place on 12th and 13th February.
Great to report back into the blog that a small project has really taken off now for Vintage Bluebird Gifts and Interiors.
Since we opened the shop back in April last year we thought that personalised gifts would always be a great string to our bow. Gillian started making personalised bunting as a result and we get a good number of orders each month and are getting regular repeat orders. Usually the bunting is made for Children as something a bit different to give for Christenings and birthdays. We can be contacted via email@example.com if you would like to know more, get a quotation or place and order. The website will be updated in a few weeks so we can sell the bunting online.
So with this success story we started to look at other things we could make and a chance conversation with an upholsterer got me thinking about lampshades. The problem is always that you have to take a guess on what to stock. So you’re always guessing which size, which fabric and whether the shade is to hang from a pendent or to sit on a table or standard lamp. So the solution is to have all the fabrics and all the lampshade rings and to then make the shade to order once the customer has made their decision. And as it only takes about 30-40 minutes to make a shade from start to finish it is no less inconvenient for the customer than say, getting some keys cut. We still have some shades on the shelf for people to walk out of the shop with but they really are just samplers now.
There are also some further and exciting opportunities that have been borne out of this project. We are can offer to make the lampshade from a fabric of the customers choosing, so as long as we are provided with enough material then a shade can be made. We can offer tutorials in making lampshades so that eventually we will be able to hold classes or parties where people can try a new a different skill. There is an element of trial and error to getting a perfect result so we can help teach how to make the perfect shade. We are also going to sell lampshade making kits through the shop so that if somebody just wants to ‘go it alone’ or requires just the minimal advice and assistance then we can help.
Until the next blog…
This Sunday Neil and Gillian from Vintage Bluebird will be making their annual pilgrimage to Pulse at Earls Court London. This will be the second time we have visited the show and so much has changed in the intervening year. The shop has moved to its new home in Ashbourne, the handmade lampshades and personalised bunting service (in-house only at present) has started taking off and the website continues to grow. Our visit to the show is to decide which suppliers we are going to work with as we will be adding jewellery to our offering in the next few weeks.
Pulse is the summer’s largest design focused retail gift and lifestyle show and the only one that takes place in London. There are nearly 500 wholesale suppliers broadly covering gifts, home wares, fashion accessories and wellbeing. There is a further part of the show called launch pad where exhibitors showcase new and innovative products. We love this show because you tend to get the smaller and independent suppliers showcasing their wares. The show also gives us the opportunity to broaden our offering ahead of the summer season.
The organisers of Pulse anticipate upwards of 7,000 visitors this year making the show a key opportunity for many suppliers to meet with the retailers. The show is also a bellwether for sentiment within our sector of the economy. Both fellow traders and exhibitors alike giving strong indications of what the current climate is like and whether prevailing sentiment is positive or otherwise.
So all being well we will have a fantastic offering of jewellery for our customers by the end of the day on Sunday. Buying at shows really is one of the pleasures of running a retail outlet like Vintage Bluebird because when all is said and done we are all really buyers at heart.
Repeat Repeat is an Award Winning contemporary design company which began in Stoke-on-Trent England, as collaboration between designers Gillian Naylor and Mark Faulkner.
After the success of their first tableware range in 1985, Repeat Repeat continued to design and manufacture contemporary and original tableware, combining traditional local craft methods and modern industrial processes. Each piece of bone china is individually hand decorated with a printed ceramic transfer and selected pieces are finished with skilful hand painting.
Repeat Repeat is a significant player in the up swell of pottery design and manufacture in the Potteries area of Staffordshire. Described by the people at Top Drawer buyers show as the Stoke Renaissance the UK is showing its’ teeth once again when it comes to the design and manufacture of fine bone china.
Vintage Bluebird Gifts and Interiors are proud to sell Repeat Repeat products online and through our shop in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. Take a look at the Frida, Silhouette and Sketchy range of mugs in our online shop